Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs made his mark on Mount Vernon. Many in town made their mark on him, too. Wirfs and his mother, Sarah, took The Gazette on a tour of his hometown, revisiting scenes around what essentially is the one square mile where he grew up. This story is a little about what can hold you back. This is mostly about what moves you forward.

Life

At Old MacDonald's Farm, children can dig into farming at new garden beds

Megan Lopata, farm manager at Old MacDonald’s Farm in Bever Park, plants seeds in newly installed raised garden beds on May 13, 2019. (Alison Gowans/The Gazette)
Megan Lopata, farm manager at Old MacDonald’s Farm in Bever Park, plants seeds in newly installed raised garden beds on May 13, 2019. (Alison Gowans/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — At Old MacDonald’s Farm in Bever Park, children can get a taste of farm life by interacting with live goats, chickens, pigs, cows and other animals. Now, they can also get their hands dirty digging into another aspect of farm life.

On May 13, Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation staff and volunteers from Master Gardeners of Linn County planted rows of lettuce, brussels sprouts, radishes, peas, tomatoes and more in newly constructed garden beds at the park. Later this summer, children will be able to interact with the garden in hands-on classes at Old MacDonald’s Farm.

“We had some groups who said they wanted to make sure kids who live in town have a chance to learn how to plant, how to grow vegetables,” Parks and Recreation Director Scott Hock said.

The garden beds were built last fall. Many are on raised wooden stilts, designed to be wheelchair accessible. Produce harvested from the garden will be donated to the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program, which in turn supplies food pantries in the area.

“A lot of people don’t realize how easy it is to grow something in their backyards,” said Megan Lopata, Old MacDonald’s Farm manager. “We’re hoping kids will just learn how they can take this home and do it themselves.”

The project was primarily funded by the Cedar Rapids Parks Foundation with support from Cedar Rapids Area Kiwanis, the Wellmark Foundation, Kirkwood Community College and Master Gardeners.

“It’s great to see all these groups come together to make something like this happen,” Hock said.

Master Gardeners and parks staff will lead the summer gardening classes for children.

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Kids who have completed second grade through fifth grade can attend “Learn, Grow, Eat and Go!,” a free Junior Master Gardener program. It will be held Mondays June 10 through Aug. 12 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at Old MacDonald’s Farm, 2700 Bever Ave., Cedar Rapids. Students who complete the course will receive a certificate, a T-shirt and recognition at a party on the last day of class. Register online at CRREC.org or call (319) 286-5566.

l Comments: (319) 398-8339; alison.gowans@thegazette.com

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